London: Protesters demonstrate outside Guardian offices over transphobic Burchill article

From Pink News:

18 January 2013

A protest took place outside the Guardian and Observer offices on Thursday, at which over 100 transgender people and cisgender allies gathered to demand an apology from its owners over the publication of a transphobic article by Julie Burchill.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is now to launch an inquiry into the Observer’s decision to print last Sunday’s article. Martha Dunkley, from the group TransLondon, said: “The Burchill piece was a deliberate baiting. It was straight forward, transphobic hate speech for which, had she been targeting another group, she would have been arrested. It threw us back into the days when we could be the objects of violence and ridicule with impunity.”

Ahead of the protest, organiser, Kai Weston, said: ”The reasons for this protest, whilst triggered by Burchill’s recent transphobic article in the Observer form part of a wider picture in which trans people are frequently seen as legitimate targets by media outlets. All too often we see trans people being used a cheap comic devices, or having their identities dragged through the papers.

“For those within society who have never had extended interaction with a trans person, the media may form their sole source of information. Given that violence and discrimination against the trans community is rife within society, I feel let down when a supposedly progressive paper publishes a piece which amounts to nothing more than an outright transphobic hate speech.

Kai Weston added: “Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the Guardian Media Group has published a transphobic article, and on each occasion the issue has been addressed with a rebuttal from a trans commentator, and then swiftly brushed beneath the carpet.

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Why Feminism Can’t Afford To Ignore Transgender Women

From Buzzfeed:

“I often feel failed by feminism,” says a trans activist. It’s about autonomy.

Anna North
January 18, 2013

The British feminist Julie Burchill this week accused transgender activists of being interlopers who “have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women,” prompting a backlash so fierce that London’s Observer newspaper removed the piece from the web.

But while Burchill cast trans women as a threat to feminism, the real threat is attitudes like hers, which could weaken the entire movement.

A subset of radical, essentialist feminists have for decades believed that transgender people are merely deluded or mentally ill for decades. Germaine Greer, whose The Female Eunuch electrified the movement in 1970, complained in 2009 that “other delusions may be challenged, but not a man’s delusion that he is female.” Sheila Jeffreys, an Australian feminist who has long criticized sex reassignment surgery, told BuzzFeed Shift that “being a woman is not a matter of gender identity. It’s not a matter of what’s in the head.” To her, womanhood comes from being born in a female body “and experiencing the harms of being a woman in a patriarchal society.”

Their views would mean less if feminism were simply a niche movement for a certain subset of women with particular views on biology and identity. But it has come to stand for gender justice in general — and, crucially, for bodily self-determination. It can’t do that with any legitimacy if it tries to keep trans women out.

“I often feel failed by feminism,” says writer and trans advocate Janet Mock. She adds, “Any woman’s right to self-identify is a personal freedom I fight for, and those women who claim trans women are not women are perpetuators of gender-based oppression, and all feminists should be upset and moved to action against this.”

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Julie Burchill’s ‘Transsexuals’ Article Is a Triumph for Liberal Hypocrisy

From Huffington Post:

By David Gazet

When I read the title of Julie Burchill’s recent article – “Transsexuals Should Cut It Out”, now removed by the Observer – I couldn’t help but expect a great deal of self indulgent, vitriolic drivel. Burchill certainly delivered, and more, with a tour de force of self righteous indignation spiced with a healthy dose of bigotry. It was enough to make me want to check my local sun dial to make sure that this really is in fact the 21st century. You might wonder amidst this ringing endorsement what it is exactly that transsexuals should cut out? Being transsexual? Lobbying for recognition and social awareness? For even having the temerity to want to be recognised by a precious, elitist little feminist clique? Burchill herself certainly doesn’t seem to know.

In the space of a few succinct paragraphs Burchill launches a series of savage and calculated attacks on transsexual lobbyists, and implicitly, all the wider transsexual community (or, as she likes to call them “a bunch of dicks in chicks clothing”.) Whilst some might argue that using offensive language in a rebuttal against bullying is like sponsoring a dolphin protection charity whilst dining on a fillet of flipper, Burchill cheerfully goosesteps to the defence of Suzanne Moore, a woman who was recently routed from Twitter after stating in an article that women were angry about “not having the ideal body shape, that of a Brazilian transsexual”.

Aside from the rather dubious reasoning in insulting an entire community because of the reactionary (whether justified or not) behaviour of some individuals on Twitter, Burchill is actually quite elegant in her dismantlement of the “vociferous transsexual lobby and their grim groupies”. Shame her understanding of such communities amounts to a gross misrepresentation. Even basic information like the meaning behind slang such as ‘cis’ (a Latin prefix meaning on the same side) or the basic mental leap to realise that the trans community encompasses huge variety of individuals and not just “bed-wetters in bad wigs” (though it could have been discovered with five minutes of research on Google). It is understandable though, basic journalism must never get in the way of steamrolling your opponents in the name of “natural-born women”.

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the whole controversy is how illustrative it is of the wider cracking of the beguiling façade of liberalism, what Tim Stanley describes as “different political classes of minorities who compete with each other for the title of most oppressed.” Burchill, in a rare moment of clarity, actually says something to this effect, in how much easier it is for the lobbyists to “lash out” rather than deal with the “real enemy.” A pity then that she cannot refrain from doing the same. After all, “natural-born” or not, gender inequality across the world remains a pressing problem, with a recent flash survey indicating that violence against women is still the most important form of inequality in the European Union.

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Transforming healthcare

From The Dallas Voice:

LGBT advocates in Dallas, Fort Worth push for cities to provide comprehensive insurance coverage to transgender employees

18 Jan 2013

When Dallas police officer Debbie Grabowski transitioned six years ago, she paid for the $90,000 in surgical procedures out of her own pocket because the city’s health insurance didn’t cover gender reassignment surgery.

Officials say the city’s coverage includes everything except the surgery, including hormone replacement therapy, but Grabowski said the plan doesn’t currently cover her hormones — and never has.

“It hasn’t changed,” she said of the city’s healthcare coverage. “If it did change, I’m not aware of it.”

Grabowski also said her gender marker hasn’t been corrected in the city’s directory despite several attempts to get it changed from male to female. She’s also put off getting male wellness checkups because she doesn’t think they’d be covered.

If the city had covered her surgeries, Grabowski said it would’ve helped immensely.

The issue is even worse in Fort Worth because Cowtown’s insurance plan specifically excludes everything related to transgender care.

Transgender-inclusive healthcare is rare among cities nationwide, with only five out of 137 cities ranked in the new Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index listed as having the coverage — San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York, Portland and Seattle. But more and more cities and private companies have started offering the coverage since San Francisco became the first U.S. city to cover gender reassignment surgery for its employees in 2001.

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Victory For Transgender Privacy: TSA Abandons ‘Nude’ Body Scanners

From Think Progress:

By Zack Ford
on Jan 18, 2013

In what is an important victory for the transgender community, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration has announced it will remove all body scanners that show nearly nude images from airports. The TSA had already removed 76 of the machines and will now remove the remaining 174, though they may still be used in other government offices where privacy is not a concern like it is in airports. Congress had set a deadline for OSI Systems to develop software for the scanners to produce generic passenger images instead of the the nearly nude images, but the company was unable to meet the timeline. Scanners produced by other companies that have managed to adjust the software will continue to be used.

The invasion of privacy caused by the machine was particularly invasive for transgender people, who were considered suspicious if their genitalia did not match their presentation. Even the software change utilized by the remaining body scanners, which are manufactured by L-3, use “blue” and “pink” indicators for gender that can still cause confusion (and thus concern) for trans passengers. As a result, they can be disproportionately selected for invasive pat downs.

The TSA is planning to expand its PreCheck program, in which passengers share more personal data before arriving at the airport but can then go through metal detectors instead of body scanners.

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From Stonewall to Homeless: The Plight of Our Elder LGBT Members

From The Huffington Post:


2012 saw a number of momentous victories in LGBT history. We saw another victory for the first president of the United States to campaign openly and often on the issue of LGBT equality. The first out elected U.S. senator, Tammy Baldwin, was sworn into office, along with the largest-ever delegation of out Congress members. And, it’s likely that President Obama will nominate the first out cabinet member, as well as introduce a landslide of equality initiatives. Throughout the nation, more openly gay state and city officials were elected than ever before. The Supreme Court agreed to hear debates on marriage equality. Pretty impressive, right?

Contrast all this with a conversation I had with Dina, a member of the greater Philadelphia LGBT community. She told me that as she and her partner of 30 years near retirement age, they face the real possibility of homelessness. Both women have worked their whole lives but never made enough to save for retirement. Both volunteered their time caring for those in shelters and hospices but, now that they are in need of the very care they provided, where do they turn?

Or Donald, who’s 62, a former teacher and long-time activist in the local LGBT community. Living on Social Security disability for the past 20 years, his arthritis and neuropathy make living alone in a third-floor Philadelphia walk-up — his only affordable option — more difficult by the day. This is Donald’s community; why shouldn’t he be able to live here with dignity in his golden years?

What does the future hold for our elder community? What do you know about them? We know much about youth and bullying issues, much about our LGBT people in military uniform, much about those of you who wish to marry and have families. But what about our elders? Chances are, you know very little and that is a sign that as a community we have not had their interests and needs on our agenda.

In 1969, we changed history at the Stonewall Riots, which is often used as a defining point in our struggle for equality. Those young activists are now pushing retirement age. When I ask the LGBT members of groups I’m speaking to, “How many of you are out to members of your family and friends?”, almost all proudly put their arms in the air. In 1969, only about one percent of our community would have put their arms in the air.

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Happy Internet Freedom Day!

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